Thursday, February 02, 2006

10 - 11 Weeks

This week I've been really thinking about Savage's training. They say it's never too early to start teaching him good behavior. Everything is done in baby steps because I don't want to bore him or overwhelm him. The easiest to teach is "sit"; he naturally sits expectantly when you hold a treat over his head. (The treats I'm using are very, very small slices of hot dogs.) The next thing I decided to teach him was laying down on the floor ("down") because it starts from a "sit" position. And that's it for now! He's really grasping the "tricks" and I just want to keep asking for those instead of introducing new ones. I've been reading a few books on puppy training and each one cautions that you must wait for the behavior before saying the command. Or else he won't have any clue what you mean. For instance, I can't just hold a treat and exhaust myself saying "roll over" continuously because he has no word association to work with. If I get him into "down", which he should already understand, and gently make him roll over myself, while saying "roll over", he now will put the behavior and the command together in his mind. Which is logical. I'd like to point out that I haven't attempted to teach him "roll over" because I don't see much of a practical use for it. I'd rather use his intelligence on useful commands like "stay" and "heel", though those two are expected to be a lot more challenging. Of course he already has heard "no" more times than even I can count and even though I'm sure he understands he still tries to get away with biting, chewing the bathmat, climbing on the coffee table, etc. Well after all, he's just a puppy.
But I'm very proud of him for learning "sit" and "down" already. With "sit" he almost does it automatically when I hold a treat, but with "down" I started by holding the treat in front of him on the floor, waiting for him to lay down from a "sit" position, and then saying "down", treating, and praising him like crazy. From there it evolved to me leaning over and tapping the floor in front of him. Finally, now I can simply point to the floor while he's sitting and say the command and (when he's in an eager mood) he will willingly lay down and wait (which is amazing, I think) for the treat. I'm very impressed, to say the least. In a later post I would like to explain some of the training strategies I've been reading about (variable schedules of reinforcement, associative learning) because in just using them a short time I'm seeing pretty cool results with Savage. It all sounds very technical but I'm making sure our training sessions are short and fun for him. And he's on the way to becoming a spectacular dog!! Another thing he is (slowly) learning is that it's not okay to chew on people's exposed flesh. He responds pretty quickly now to "no", and then is rewarded with a toy he can chew on, as opposed to my hands. One of the annoying things I'm running into now is people playing with him and either rewarding his bad behavior or trying to "teach" me how to teach him. A friend insists that because he is a puppy and needs to chew that I shouldn't discipline him for chewing on anyone's arms. Early in Sav's "sit" training a guy I met tried to impress me with his dog-training skills by telling Sav to sit, while pushing down on his butt with the hand holding the treat, at which point the smart little puppy turned around toward his butt to get the treat from the man's hand! Which is also logical. It bothers me that other people's ideas may only confuse my dog, but he needs to be socialized, and I can't keep him away from everyone that thinks they know what's best for him. Still, it's pretty annoying.
Speaking of socialization, Savage is now getting to meet more friendly dogs. One thing I'm making sure of is that all the dogs he's meeting are up to date on their vaccinations, something my breeder K. warned me about. Savage himself is due for his parvo vaccine (his first) at 12 weeks. Other than that, I'm just trying to keep everything calm and controlled, though that is a huge challenge. During Savvy's playtime with Ted, the blue dane in the previous post, Ted stepped on my puppy's foot and tore the rest of the injured nail almost off! Savage was startled, squealed, and ran back to his mama. At that point Ted's owner and I decided to just pull off the nail and be done with it. We cleaned it with Betadine (povidone-iodine, which is a common first-aid antiseptic) and she simply pulled the nail out while I held him. I expected yelling and crying but little Savage couldn't have cared less, didn't even look at it. Actually, the whole time he was eyeing some homemade fudge on the counter, which took precedent over his injury. Anyway, the wound on his toe looks very healthy and pink, no infection present, so I've just been applying Betadine to it once or twice a day and hoping it all heals quickly.
Ear taping is going as well as expected. It's kinda touch-and-go since the tape doesn't seem to be sticking that well, and the tubes keep slipping out once in a while. So I redo the whole deal often. Eventually I hope I hit on something that sticks and remember exactly how I did it. It occurs to me that maybe the foam tubes are coming out just because his ears are growing up so fast. Is that possible?!
I'm also realizing that I'm going to really NEED that chest freezer pretty soon. I ended up with a quickly diminishing supply of chicken leg quarters, an overstock of ground beef (which he eats only sparingly), two remaining hot dogs that belonged to the humans but became Savage's when I began giving pieces as treats, and a pound of frozen beef liver that my puppy WILL NOT eat, and neither will either human in the household. I have got to figure out a meal plan and stick to it in order to avoid driving to Duluth (150 miles) every week for more dog food! Sweet potatos, canned salmon, etc., have not been a problem since they keep well and are easy to store anywhere.
In the meantime, my Savage is happy and healthy and spends the entire day with me, doing chores, visiting friends, playing with his stuffed animals. When I go to work, he and my boyfriend R. usually crash on the futon, watching the Military Channel on t.v., and cuddling. (See the above pictures!) I get home around 11pm - 1am and fall asleep listening to R. snoring and Savvy "talking" in his sleep.


Post a Comment